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XI.-Miss Robertson (Mrs. Kendal)
XIII.- Mr. Montague and the “Jeunes Premiers”
XV.-Comedy and Comedy Actresses
XVI.- A Garden of Eden
Spring Hunting on Western Moors. By “SIRIUS
Sultan's City, A Trip to the. By C. W.
Tennyson and the “Quarterly Review.” By T. H. L. LEARY, D.C.L. 423
A STORY OF PUNCHESTOWN.
BY G. J. WHYTE MELVILLE, AUTHOR OF "THE GLADIATORS," &c.
THE BLACK MARE.
HE'LL make a chaser anny-how!"
The speaker was a rough-looking man in a frieze coat, with wide mouth, short nose, and grey, honest Irish
eyes, that twinkled with humour on occasions, though clouded for the present by disappointment, not to say disgust, and with some reason. In his hand he held a broken strap, with broad and dingy buckle ; at his feet, detached from shafts and wheels, lay the body of an ungainly vehicle, neither gig, dog-cart, nor outside car, but something of each, battered and splintered in a dozen places, while “ fore-aninst” him, as he called it, winced and fretted a young black mare, snorting, trembling, fractious, and terrified, with ears laid back, tail tucked down to her strong cowering quarters, and an obvious determination on the slightest alarm to kick herself clear of everything once more.
At her head stood a ragged urchin of fourteen ; although her eyes showed wild and red above the shabby blinkers, she rubbed her nose against the lad's waistcoat, and seemed to consider him the only friend she had left in the world,
“Get on her back, Patsy,” said the man. “Faix, she's a welllepped wan, an' we'll take a hate out of her at Punchestown with the blessin' !-Augh! See now, here's the young Captain! Ye're welcome, Captain ! It's meself was proud when I seen how ye cleaned them out last week on ‘Garryowen.' Ye'll come in, and welcome, Captain. Go on in front now, and I'll show you the way !"
VOL. VIII., N.S. 1872.
So, while a slim, blue-eyed, young gentleman, with curled moustache, accompanied his entertainer into the house, Patsy took the mare to the stable, where he accoutred her in an ancient saddle, pulpy, weather-stained, with stirrups of most unequal length, proceeding thereafter to force a rusty snaffle into her mouth, with the tightest possible nose-band and a faded green and white front. These arrangements completed, he surveyed the whole, grinning and well-pleased.
That the new-comer could only be a subaltern of Light Dragoons was obvious from his trim equestrian appearance, his sleek, wellcropped head, the easy sit of his garments, also, perhaps, from an air of imperturbable good-humour and self-confidence, equal to any occasion that might present itself, social, moral, or physical.
Proof against “ dandies of punch” and such hospitable provocatives, he soon deserted the parlour for the stable.
“And how is the mare coming on?” said he, standing in the doorway of that animal's dwelling, which she shared with a little cropped Jack-ass, a Kerry cow, and a litter of pigs. “I always said she could gallop a bit, and they're the right sort to stay. But can she jump?"
“The beautifullest ever ye see !" replied her enthusiastic owner. “She'll go whereiver a cat could follow a rat. If there's a harse in Connemara that 'ud change on the sharp edge of a razor, there's the wan that can do't! Kick, stick, and plasther! It's in their breed; and like th’ould mare before her, so long as you'd hould her, it's my belief she'd stay in the air !"
The object of these praises had now emerged from her stall, and a very likely animal she looked, poor and angular indeed, with a loose neck and somewhat long ears, but in her lengthy frame, and large clean limbs, affording promise for the future of great beauty, no less than extraordinary power and speed. Her head was exceedingly characteristic, lean and taper, showing every vein and articulation beneath the glossy skin, with a wide scarlet nostril and flashing eye, suggestive of courage and resolution, not without a considerable leavening of temper. There are horses and women too, that stick at nothing. To a bold rider, the former are invaluable, because with these it is possible to keep their mettle under control.
Hurry now, Patsy!" said the owner, as that little personage, diving for the stirrup, which he missed, looked imploringly to his full-grown companions for a “leg up."
But it was not in the nature of our young officer, by name John Walters, known in his regiment as “ Daisy,” to behold an empty saddle of any kind without longing to fill it. He had altered the stirrups,
cocked up his left leg for a lift, and lit fairly in his seat, before the astonished filly could make any more vigorous protest than a lurch of her great strong back and whisk of her long tail.
"Begorra ! ye'll get it now !” said her owner, half to himself, halt to the Kerry cow, on which discreet animal he thought it prudent to rivet his attention, distrusting alike the docility of his own filly, and the Englishman's equestrian skill.
Over the rough paved yard, through the stone gap by the peatstack, not the little cropped Jack-ass himself could have behaved more soberly. But where the spring flowers were peeping in the turf enclosure beyond, and the upright bank blazed in its golden glory of gorse-bloom, the devilry of many ancestors seemed to pass with the keen mountain-air into the filly's mettle. Her first plunge of hilarity and insubordination would have unseated half the roughriders that ever mishandled a charger in the school.
Once—twice, she reached forward, with long, powerful plunges, shaking her ears, and dashing wildly at her bridle, till she got rein enough to stick her nose in the air, and break away at speed.
A snaffle, with or without a nose-band, is scarcely the instrument by which a violent animal can be brought on its haunches at short notice; but Daisy was a consummate horseman, firm of seat and cool of temper, with a head that never failed him, even when debarred from the proper use of his hands.
He could guide the mure, though incapable of controlling her. So he sent her at the highest place in the fence before him, and, fast as she was going, the active filly changed her stride on the bank with the accuracy of a goat, landing lightly beyond, to scour away once more like a frightened deer.
"You can jump !" said he, as she threw up the head, that had been in its right place hardly an instant, while she steadied herself for the leap; "and I believe you're a flyer. But, by Jove, you're a rum one to ste er !"
She was quite out of his hand again, and laid herself down to her work with the vigour of a steam-engine. The-daisy-sprinkled turf fleeted like falling water beneath those long, smooth, sweeping strides.
They were careering over an open upland country, always slightly on the rise, till it grew to a bleak brown mountain far away under the western sky. The enclosures were small; but notwithstanding the many formidable banks and ditches with which it was intersected, the whole landscape wore that appearance of space and freedom so peculiar to Irish scenery, so pleasing to the sportsman's eye. “It